After a week of midterms, I finally arrived at San Francisco with my best friend. Having been born in NYC, raised in Jersey, and experiencing one year of school in Philly - I was in desperate need of a change of coast. Despite the chilly weather, we explored much of the hotspots that the Bay area had to offer, in downtown Center City, as well as in Berkeley and Presidio. We filled our bellies with food, met up with friends (old and new), and photographed every view in sight.
Here's some snapshots from our trip, as well as destination recommendations if you ever decide to visit!
1. Baker Beach -
Hands-down the best beach in the Bay Area - it has a reputation for having stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it's tucked away in a clean, wealthy part of Presidio (Can I move here when I'm older?) There were also a ton of cute dogs on the beach that day for some reason...
2. Ghirardelli Square -
Small shops, dazzling lights and a lot of geometric greenery. Gardens were perfectly manicured and the buildings were rustic and homey, while still maintaining a modern feel. If Soho and Princeton had a baby...
3. The View -
Our first night, we had dinner on top of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis (dubbed, The View). The small plates were delicious and super European (lots of focaccia, artisan cheeses, etc). But being directly in the heart of Union Square was the most exciting part - this place truly does offer the most stunning overview of all of downtown SF. I give it 3 C's: it was classy, chic, and comfortable.
Word of advice: get there early to snag a window seat. We went at an unconventional time (on a Monday night), but it was still filled nonetheless!
4. The Palace of Fine Arts -
I felt like someone had transported me directly to Greece or Rome - seriously, the lagoon views bridged with the wide rotundas and tall columns felt so out of place in a modern city like San Francisco, but there was an aura of authenticity that you can't find anywhere else. It's a culmination of the East and the West; it's an energized piece of art that rightfully holds its own ground. We went during the day, but it'd be better to go at night when they turn the lights on, and you're able to see the reflections in the water.
5. San Francisco City Hall-
This... was the one of the most aesthetic buildings I've ever seen in my life. Absolutely insane. I've visited the one in Philadelphia, and it did not resonate with me nearly as much as this one did. We came at a time when there were quite a few weddings going on; we actually watched a few couples get married here! When you walk in, you're immediately hit with a grand staircase in the foyer that directly cascades down to your feet. Coupled with 3 floor layers that extend upwards, I felt like I was royalty in the wide majestic space. I also have a weakness for white marble (future home inspo)!
6. UC Berkeley Botanical Garden-
We stayed with our friend at UC Berkeley for a few days at his on-campus apartment. While there, visiting the garden was such a treat - I feel like it's underappreciated because it has its name associated with the school, but honestly, it has views that could bolster its reputation to National-Park status. There were diverse plants that spanned the globe, and the layout of the entire garden was actually geographical (ex. they had areas entitled "Asia," "Africa," "The Mediterranean," "California Native," "Australasian," etc.). Admission was inexpensive too!
6. Financial District -
Very commercial and preprofessional. Life seems super fast-paced here, but there's a ton of cool restaurants and tall buildings!
Thanks for a wonderful week, California. It's always a pleasure, and I'll be back for sure (in the near future, hopefully? And when it's not too cold!)